Welcome to Parenthood, the roller coaster entertaining billions that takes us up, up, up and DOWN faster than we can imagine. Every day on this ride we experience a whirlwind of emotions: We’re blissfully happy, then thrown for a loop. Laughing hysterically then painfully drained. Turned upside down and scared out of our minds. Sometimes it’s more than we can handle, and at the top of our lungs we find ourselves temporarily insane, screaming “GET ME OFF OF THIS THING!”
Unfortunately, celebrations have a sneaky way of inducing stress. Birthdays, family gatherings and other significant occasions may surface or heighten pesky, unpleasant feelings. Many of us experience guilt, anxiety, pressure, inadequacy or sheer panic in moments leading up to, during and after celebrations.
Ask yourself this: Whether it be surrounding a celebration or any moment in time – what do you do when you reach a low point, when you begin to feel your world crumbling, when you stop smiling? All too often, we crack. We may start crying, pouting, or screaming. We may take it out on someone we love. We may internalize all those negative feelings, or instead explode with anger. Unproductive reactions like these hurt us and those around us, furthering our angst.
We parents certainly deserve more. We don’t want OFF this crazy roller coaster; we want to ENJOY the ride as much as possible.
We’ve got to slow down. Better yet, we’ve got to stop ourselves in our tracks when the going gets tough. We’ve got to H.A.L.T.
Its origin unknown, this handy self-help acronym cues us to LOOK INWARD and assess four of our most basic needs. Let it be your “go-to” trick for those times when parenthood, or life in general, has you feeling down.
If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, don’t hesitate to TAKE ACTION and help yourself in that moment. Remember, you deserve it!
H = Are you hungry?
Yes? Not surprising. So much of how we feel can relate to our food and drink choices. With a little planning and healthy snacking you’ll feel better all around. Try these practical ideas:
- Grab a healthy, high protein snack. 8 Snacks to Keep You Full via HUFFPOST HEALTHY LIVING
- Plan ahead and pack snacks. (If you’re packing a snack for your child, you should also be packing a snack for yourself!)
- We all know not to skip breakfast, but coffee lovers that we are, we like to modify this rule slightly: Eat breakfast first, then enjoy coffee, and drink water all day long! How much water? via The Mayo Clinic
- Set a great snacking example for your children. Finding the Healthy Balance via Simple Bites
- Embrace the power of meal planning. Grab an app and attack! Top 7 Apps via Life Scoop
A = Are you afraid?
Yes? Get your feelings out of the confines of your mind and out in the open. Here are some suggestions:
- Call your mother! Confide in someone you trust. Opt for a phone call over texting.
- Record your stream of consciousness. How to via wikiHow
- Write a good-old-fashioned letter to a dear friend or family member. You may be surprised how therapeutic it feels to put pen to paper… as Easy as ABC via The Guardian Beta
- Record your thoughts and feelings with a “voice recorder” app. The next day or several days after, listen to yourself and reflect.
- Sometimes children’s books have all the answers, even for adults. Snuggle up for story time with your child and overcome your fears together! Book List via Family Education
L = Are you lonely?
Yes? You’re not alone. As humans we need the connectivity of social interaction. As parents we need friends who will lift us up when we’re down, who will listen. Here are some ideas to engage your support network:
- Call a family member. Your Grandmother is an excellent choice.
- Compliment at least one person you regularly see and at least one stranger every day.
- Join a social group (Meetup is great!) or sign up for a class. Check out Gather in Cary, offering unique classes taught by local talent. Capitalize on an opportunity to meet new people and learn new skills… simultaneously!
- Ask an acquaintance to join you for coffee or lunch. Reconnect with an old friend. Schedule a date with your spouse. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert or coffee – your treat.
- Sometimes connecting with your children is like a cure-all. Peruse these 20 Awesome Ideas for a date with your child via Simply Kierste!
T = Are you tired?
Yes? Well, when aren’t we?! Here are some thoughts to tackle this every day ailment.
- Check into bed early! We love these ideas to Get to Bed Earlier Tonight via HUFFPOST LIFESTYLE.
- Establish a healthy nighttime routine for yourself and your children. If you feel at a loss as to how, consider a sleep coach for your family. Contact local sleep coach, Irene, at Loving Lessons for a free 15 minute phone consult!
- Take a 20 minute power nap or short walk; both have rejuvenating powers.
- Go to a quiet place and set a timer for 3 minutes. Close your eyes and focus only on your breath. Repeat if you have time. Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation, anyone? via Gil Fronsdal and The Insight Meditation Center
- Be Gentle on Yourself. That’s #8 on this awesome tip list to combat exhaustion via Tiny Buddha.
We each have a choice to make at the top of that coaster crest: to shut our eyes tight, hide, and wait until the ride is over – or throw both hands up, release, and experience everything there is to feel.
This crazy coaster called parenthood isn’t always a joy ride, but we wouldn’t trade our ticket for anything in the world. H.A.L.T. to make the next trying moment in parenthood a little easier, and be sure to share this easy tool with a fellow parent. Don’t forget, it’s never too late to Celebrate Today!
All Wrapped Up Parties, LLC is a local, mom-owned and operated party planning business serving North Carolina’s Greater Triangle Area and shipping signature party boxes nationwide.